Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Fun

On Sunday morning, we woke up late.

Jake and I honestly cannot remember waking up at the time we should have been leaving for church in a long time.  "We'll just go to big church," Hubs told me as he snuggled down into the bed again.

"OR...." and I gave him my best cute look that I could muster after being asleep for ten hours, "We could stay home today."

So we stayed home.

And it was blissfully wonderful.

After eating a big breakfast of pancakes (yes, Becca, with peanut butter), I cleaned up the kitchen while listening to the intense football game going on outside my kitchen window.

You know those moments you want to bottle and keep forever?  That was one of them.

So I grabbed the flip cam and took a few videos of the boys....

Daddy plays all time QB, S1 and S4 (Andrew and Abraham) are a team and S2 and S3 (Isaac and Eli) are a team.  The boys literally beg daddy to play football with them every single day.  Having a day free to play football? They couldn't have been happier.

A friend had facebook messaged us to see if we needed a free dishwasher.  And while we did not, my sister did so we made plans to head over and pick it up.

"Head over and pick it up" was close to a three hour trip because Kelly Faye is that awesomely sweet.
Every time I get a chance to see her I leave saying, "Jake, we need to get together with her more often."

She just bought this house in the past year and being a single girl, she didn't want a dishwasher.  Her house is done up in colors I love.  Seriously, I am just going to have her give me paint colors so I can pick them up for our house.  The boys love her dog Remii, and I dare say Remii will sleep soundly after chasing innumerable tennis balls thrown by the boys...not to mention the chasing of the boys themselves.  

I could go on and on about Kelly Faye.  She is that sweet, that down to earth, that wonderful.

And she lives next to Jake's high school good buddy, Bob.  And when Bob saw we were there, he had to pull in and say hello too.

So here is the funny story that Jake tells everyone about Bob.

When they were in high school, Jake bet Bob one hundred dollars that Bob would be married before Jake was.  Jake and I just celebrated 15 years, Bob has never been married.  Jake tells this story and looks at me as if to say, "You've been costing me money since I married you."  BUT HE SAYS, "You were worth every penny."  I always then choose to believe what he says.

And Bob, being Bob, did not make Jake pay that one hundred dollars. 

But I thought to snap this photo of them and I am just going to say, I love it for some many reasons.

After saying, "Well, we are going to get going" about twenty times (literally), we finally loaded up in the truck and headed home to grill chicken for dinner.  S4 had to clean out the suburban to help pay off the toy he bought (but didn't have the money for) and found our Burger King crowns from earlier this week.  He deemed me a princess and wanted me to wear it....
He thought I looked princess-y but since I had not combed my hair or put on make up that day, I seriously doubted it.

But what cracked me up was checking on my grilling hubby and finding him like this....
I love it.  I was almost sad no one stopped by to see us wearing crowns as we went about our evening.  I mean, that would be a memorable "drop by" for someone, don't you think?

As Jake, S1 and I snuggled on the couch eating hot fudge pudding cake and ice cream, tired and full of sweet food, I couldn't help but think what a wonderfully perfect day this was.

It was a good, good day.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Things I NEVER Imagined I'd Do

I've written a post titled this before.  You can read it HERE.  (But Kellyn won't want to since it deals with a boar's head.)

But this is again something I never thought I would do.

Today I went shopping for Jock Cups.  Which, actually, are not called Jock Cups.  They are actually called Flex Cups.  But come on, we all know what Jock Cups are and we wouldn't know what Flex Cups are.  Also, I would not suggest google searching such words.


I left the boys to find them for themselves while we shopped for groceries at Meijer.

They came back with chin straps.

This is when I began to get worried.  Because did my boys really want their mama calling for assistance to find jock cups?  Because you know that's what would happen.  They were happy to look for them on their own...and eventually found them.  They kept them in their own cart they pushed around the store, not wanting me to see them at all.

When I went to check out I looked at the selection of jock cups, mouth guards, deodorant, axe spray and sport formula febreeze I had in my cart.

I never thought I would buy these things.

I mean, when my boys were all sweet and little itty bitty, did I ever once pause to think, "Thirteen years from now I will be buying jock cups"?  No.  I did not.

But that's just what I did today.

After the grocery run, we had to head to a doctor's appointment for S1's Sports Physical.  Middle school is new territory for us all and I had no idea that he needed one to play football this year.  And his first ever football season starts Monday.

On our way to the doctor's office, we stopped at Burger King.  The boys have never eaten there.  S1 and S2 were pretty thrilled they had something called a bacon sundae and had to try it. S4 was thrilled there were crowns.  He begged me to wear it and beamed with pride and joy when I wore it out of the restaurant to the suburban.  S1 and S2 didn't quite walk with the three crowned members of their family.

We had a little time to kill and since we had already looked at and purchased jock cups, we headed to Bob's Gun and Tackle.  I mean, why not?  There we purchased ammo, gun cleaning kits, camouflage coat and shirt and various other things I have no idea of.  I also purchased a candle.  I mean, come on, with all this boy stuff I needed a girly candle and shockingly, they had an amazing vanilla smelling candle.

We arrived at the doctor's for the sports physical with the boys telling me what an awesome day this was.

S1 has reached that age where I asked him if he wanted me to tag along in the waiting room.  I acted like it was no big deal but if he had said no I think I would have called a girlfriend to sob that I was no longer needed any longer by my son.  But he did want me there!  He did not want his brothers.

So I gave the other three the biggest stink eye stern face you must behave look I could muster and off I went with S1 to get his sports physical.

Technically it was called a well child check up.

You know, the ones that little babies go to?  The very ones I took him to at three months, six months, nine months...etc.  Now it's once a year...

And now instead of being glad he grew a little I learned he had grown FOUR INCHES in one year.

However, he is exactly one quarter inch shorter than me.

We had thought he was taller but that quarter inch is a big deal and I am still taller! Woohoo!  I did a happy dance, he was crushed.  But he knows it won't last long...he'll beat me in height soon enough.

But when it came time to check "his boy parts", they asked if he wanted his mom there.  "She would probably not like to see this," he said so they ushered me out.

I gave birth to the boy!!! Hello?

But I chatted with all the nurses in the back room and scored a great almond cookie recipe.

When I called Jake to tell him how the appointment had gone, he asked me if the jock cups had jock straps.

I was not aware such things existed.

So, off to the store we went again and stood in front of the jock cups and straps and all sorts of manly things.

After all that, I needed a Biggby.  With an extra shot.

All in all, it was really a pretty great day.

One I may not recover from for some time but great all the same.

And the boys don't seem too traumatized...but again, these are things I never imagined I would do.

What else will I have to do now that they are getting older?

Wait, don't tell me.  I need no more boyish things today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Daddy is Challenged

Dinner conversations are the best at our house.  I often wish we could record them so I can look back one day and relive them.  When they are great, they are really great.

Take tonight for example.

Jake had been gone overnight and I was gone at football practice for S2 and I told him that tonight for dinner was chicken and rice.

He doesn't like rice.

I was pretty happy when he took a second helping of rice.  I mentally was thinking how often I could add this dinner to our weekly meal plan because it was easy and yummy.

"You took off your hat," Jake mentioned to me as I mixed the rice and chicken.

"I wore it to keep the sun out of my eyes," I explained and then glanced at him, "Did you like me in my hat?"

"You looked cute."

I beamed.  Him telling me I look cute always makes me feel a bit like Bambi when he takes flying off for the first time after being called cute.

But then there was silence.  I glanced over at him.  "You were being sarcastic, weren't you?"

He nodded.  "This," he worked his eyes over my too big tshirt and work out shorts, "Is not your best look."

I fumed.

"But," he added, "This dinner is good."

S4 dramatically cleared his throat and leaned back in his chair.  "Daddy, you are challenged with mama."

Jake began to laugh.  "Is that so?"

"Yes," S4 continued, "We had to go to the gas station to get some gas in the truck and mama was on the phone and this man was just looking at her and looking at her and looking at her."

"And she looked like this?" my husband exclaimed incredulously.

"She was in her purple dress," S4 continued, "And I wanted to tell him not to look at her anymore cuz you would be mad!"

S2 added, "He drove away and just kept looking at her."

"Why didn't you tell him to stop?" Jake asked.

"If you want us to race after him and tell him that our mama is not no widow and stop looking at her, we will," S3 informed him.

Jake laughed.  "Well, you better."

"So you are challenged, Daddy, you better take care of mama," S4 added.

My theory?  Who wouldn't be looking at woman pulling into a gas station with a loud hillbilly looking truck of which the bed is filled with bikes and the cab is filled with boys.  Especially when said woman steps out of said rusty old dodge with a dress and heels.  That just screams a fun story, I think. Personally.

And that is my life.

And just one conversation at dinner tonight.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Life is a Bit Different in Arizona

The first day I arrived in Arizona, I went to bed when Jack did.  Or close to.  I'm not totally sure of the time frame there because my mind was more than slightly hazy.  One might toss and turn in a new bed, in a new house, in unfamiliar surroundings...but I did not.  I closed my eyes and was dead to the world.

This morning I awoke to many coffee choices and when Becca ran the boys to school, I sat at the pool drinking coffee and being ever so thankful for it while I called my boys.

S2 - "Hey, Mama, did you bring our fish to Arizona with you?"
Me - "Nope.  Daddy said he would take care of them."
S2 - "Did you remind him?"
Me - "Mmmhmm, and I'll remind him later this week."
S2 - "Did you remind him to feed the bunnies too?'
Me - "Yup, your bunnies are fine too."

Very little chatting and the phone was handed to S3.

S3 - "Hi, Mama, did you pack our fish with you?"
Me - "No, Daddy is feeding them though.  He already said he did."
S3 - "Will he remember to feed them again?"
Me - "Oma will let you call him and remind Daddy."
S3 - "Oh."  He sounds unsure. Then, "Did you see a cactus yet? Don't forget a picture of a cactus!"

Then S4 got on the phone.

S4 - "Hi, Mama! Did you bring Josie with you?"
Me - "No, Josie (the dog) is home with Daddy."
S4 - "I bet she isn't happy. (Josie loves me. Jake? notsomuch.) "Did you bring the fish with you?"
Me - "No, and I already talked with Daddy and he fed them."
S4 - "Did he feed the bunnies too?"

I am glad to know that my boys who I have to remind to do chores do in fact remember their chores when they are gone being spoiled at Oma and Papa's.

And I am not so worried about them missing me now.

After my conversation with my boys about their pets (S1 was already out putting up deer stands in trees), Becca and I went for a walk.

I am thankful she is patient and kind because I took a zillion photos.

But when it looks like this, how can you not?

We tried to get photos of lizards.  Like, tried and tried.  I took video of us finding a lizard...almost.  As in, it was there, we just couldn't see it.

This was the best photo I got.  I was super impressed with this, because those lizards can move FAST.

And I was really thankful not to see a snake.

Tonight for dinner Becca and her super kind husband spoiled me yet again with Chinese food.  I am now the biggest fan of Sesame Chicken and Fried Rice. To which Jake said, "You know, they have Chinese food at home.  I could take you someplace for Chinese."

I think he misses me.  A lot.

But, does Michigan have THIS??????

I think not.

In fact, I know not.

Becca tells me that if the cactus (and she has another name for it too) has one arm it is 75 years old.  So this one is REALLY old.  

And really cool.

And I need to find new words other than "and" and "cool".

But one thing that was not cool is this....

While enjoying a leisurely morning (after our adventurous three mile walk), we sat at the pool and chit chatted the morning away.  We were back in the house before eleven.  I figured morning sun, no worries....

I think you can tell that I should have worried.

And yes, the sunburn is a little sore.

And yes, Becca's husband laughed at us.  But he should have.  I look ridiculous.

But it was fun all the same. 

Tomorrow I explore more cactus. Or is it cacti? Or something like that.  

And there may be rumors of pedicures.  

Oh yah, Arizona and I are getting along just fine.

Texas Arrives in Michigan

So Rebecca was coming for a visit.  She was arriving from Texas with her three boys to stay with us for a few days.

Rebecca and I raised our boys together during the short time she lived in the state.  Two of our sons share the same name.  When I had stressed over naming our second son Isaac, Jake had shrugged and said, “How long do you think you two will be friends?”

Forever and ever, buddy.

Photo snapped at Rebecca's arrival.

Because with her city life in Texas and my, well, eccentric life here, we are still the best of friends and our boys – who don’t recall the time they were sorta neighbors, play together like peas in a pod.

You can imagine my joy at her arrival.

You can also imagine my cleaning frenzy.

I cleaned the carpets days before she arrived.  I washed every sleeping bag.  I sent the boys to clean the camper (that I loving called her suite. Hey, it’s a queen size bed and bathroom just for her!) because because I was getting over being sick.

I felt pretty confident about when she would arrive.  This time we were prepared.

The thing I was worried about the most was my cat.

For years we have had a black and white cat named Fernie Cow.  While she has been a bit rude to the boys in her later years, she has been my pet.  She greets me when I return home, she sleeps on the bed when Jake leaves for work, she makes sure she has my attention if I snuggled in with a book.  When we went camping, she had snuck down to the basement.  Our basement is a Michigan cellar…it holds our water heater and so forth, it isn’t high enough for us to stand tall in and the rest is crawl space.  Fernie goes to the basement when she is feeling antisocial.

But she didn’t come up from the basement.

We had to assume the worst when days later and me calling and searching as far as the flashlight would go that she was dead.

Dead under our floor boards.

And it was about to hit the mid nineties in temperature.

The day Rebecca was to arrive, my husband took a deep breath of the cooler air and said, “I think Fernie must have escaped.  We would have smelled her by now.  Must be she got outside, knowing she was about to die.”

A few hours before Rebecca arrived, I sent S4 down to get some beans and corn for the shepherd’s pie I had been requested to make for dinner.  I had just dumped the hamburger to drain and was shocked when S4 came screaming up the stairs.  “Fernie! Fernie!” he cried.

And there was Fernie, looking dead but she was alive.

Her back legs hardly moved.  Her hair long hair was matted.  She just leaned into me and purred. 

I knew she had come back just to die.

How she survived this long, I have no idea. 

By this time we had gotten rid of her kitty litter box, but I did have some litter left so I poured some in a pizza box and left it on the floor for her.  I gave her food and water.  She just collapsed on the floor and let out a sad meow every once in awhile.

I figured I should let Rebecca know this.

This was also when I read her text.  “Surprise, Travis is coming with me.”

Her husband.

I wrote “the more the merrier”, panicked a bit and then texted her, “I have a cat story for you.  It’s why there is a litter in a pizza box in our bathroom. It’s tragic and awful and sorta funny but not really but kind of it is.  Sorta.”

She texted back, “I need to hear that story!!”

When Rebecca was just nearly about to arrive, I vacuumed the living room, left it finally clean and went to start washing the pots.  I had made ten pounds of mashed potatoes and needed to wash my monster pot that was soaking.  I dumped the water out and…it stayed in the sink.

In the fourteen years of living here, this has never happened.

I took the plunger and attempted to force it down.  I was certain potato chunks must be in the drain.  I scooped all the nasty sat all night and day water out and dumped it onto the yard.  Nothing worked.

So I called in S1. “Can you fix this?” I asked.

“I can sure try. Sure,” he shrugged and got busy.

Rebecca texted she was about 15 minutes out.

I put on make up.  The cat was barely moving.

I looked into the living room where I heard squeals, the two youngest had just hauled out every blanket and pedestal stand to make tents that filled the living room.  Impressively done in all of ten minutes. 

I went into the kitchen where S1 had the pipes off, every thing I have ever collected under a kitchen sink out from under the kitchen sink and on the floor.

At least dinner smelled great.

And then Rebecca arrived.

Her three boys flew off to be with my three younger boys.  S1 stayed busy working on the sink.  She looked into my eyes and asked me if I was stressed.

I was just so happy she was here.

I snapped a picture of us and sent it to Jake so he knew they had arrived.

The boys dragged Travis, Rebecca’s husband, over to the tank to see the snakes and turtles and frogs. They introduced him the meat rabbit that they hoped we could have for dinner tomorrow.  Travis felt he may be sick and had to lay down on the hammock.  We sort of have that effect on people.

The sink stayed plugged.

When Austin, Rebecca’s youngest at six, had to use the bathroom, Travis had to go in with him.  Austin didn’t like the way the cat stared at him.

My handsome Jake arrived home to complete and utter chaos.  He had been sick the day before and was miserable feeling when he arrived.  He looked at the sink, I started to stress he would be mad because this had to be my fault, and when he realized the hose with the holes wasn’t going to be long enough for this project S1 ran out to his shop and got out his Father’s Day gift…a new garden hose.  The hose snaked through the house and cleaned out the pipes.

The pipes filled with grease.

Grease from the hamburger I had made earlier in the day.  Thankfully it was a quick (although messy) fix.  And bless Rebecca’s heart for saying, “It looks like potato to me.  You sure that is grease in that bucket?”

The hero man moved on to the next project, moving the camper into place.

And as Rebecca and I chatted and giggled and caught up (we turn into silly girls when we get together…who is this mom person these boys ask of?), he grabbed up the cat that we had all had a chance to say goodbye to, laid her gently in a paper bag and headed to the door.

“Don’t let the cat out of the bag,” Rebecca joked and we sort of all snickered at the sad moment.

By the end of the night, Rebecca’s boys were covered, literally covered like they had been rubbed down, in mud.  The sink drained, the cat was buried, the camper was ready.  The food we devoured in heaping spoonfuls.  My hero husband retreated to bed.

And Rebecca and I, exhausted, just looked at eachother and laughed.

What a greeting to our home. 

Our House - Pic Taken by Rebecca

The next two days were a blur of fun and mud.  We played cards for hours and had those indepth talks you never get over the phone or email.  The boys skinned a snake (I made sure she knew it could go home with her), the boys were covered in layers of mud.  Travis took them swimming, which we felt sure was the only way they would ever get partially clean.

The boys. Taking a break from the swamp, go cart and critters.

It was good, so good, to have them here.  Chaos and all, there is nothing like getting together with a friend.

If you would like to hear her side of the story, click over to her blog.  She writes beautifully of God and spiritual growth and marriage…then she comes to see me and talks of skinned snakes.

It’s bound to be a great read.

All of us when we said goodbye at Bay Pointe Pool

I'm in Arizona!!!

Well, I did it.

I packed as little as I could and boarded a plane.

I sat on said plane for an hour and a half while they tried to fix it.  They then decided it could not be fixed and sent us to a new plane.

We literally walked off one plane and onto the other plane.  

This one worked.

We flew to Chicago where I found my next connecting flight with no problems at all and sat in a middle seat between two business men and flew to Arizona.

I was pretty much bouncing in my seat with excitement the closer we got.  This is when the man next to the window decided he may need to talk to me (bless him for not thinking I am crazy...but, then again, he might of thought I was crazy) and then he pronounced me a saint (so he couldn't have thought I am crazy) for having four boys. 

When I got off the plane in Phoenix, I walked down a short way and THERE WAS BECCA!!!!

And I didn't get a picture.

She promptly took me to get lunch at In-N-Out

Y U M M Y !!!!

THEN I remembered to get a photo of Becca and I.

We then drove like two hours in which I could have possibly taken a zillion photos because everything is lovely to me.

And when we arrived at her home, I finally sat at her pool.

The pool she has sent photos to me of for so long.

I was there.

I am here NOW.

Pinch me, it doesn't seem real!

Then Chelsea and kids came to visit and have dinner with us.

And we took photos even though I was nearly dead tired at this point.

And in this moment, smiling for photos, I still could not believe I was actually here...this is actually happening.

During dinner, a monsoon hit.

And when it cleared out I took about ten photos that look like this....

Beautiful is an understatement for Arizona.

Spoiled is an understatement of how great Becca and family are to me.

Are you following Becca's blog yet?

You better be! She has more there....

I'll have more adventure's up soon...don't worry.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dirty Dishes

I have dirty dishes in my sink as I write this.

Today is a rain day here at home.  It's a cool 60 degrees and the mix of cool temps and rain seems like a gift delivered to our doorsteps.

But inside or home it hasn't felt cozy and nice.

We just received AMAZING hand me down clothes.  I mean, a-maz-ing.  Boxes and boxes of them.  Last night I held up each item and one of the four boys said yay or nay to it.  Then I told them to make sure they had them taken care of.

And they trotted upstairs like angels and did.

At least, I thought they did.

This morning I told the boys that since it's so rainy and cool, how about they get their room totally clean so we are all set for when we all get home after being gone a week to face the football and school schedule's we'll be facing.

Granted, the boys don't like to hear about school.  I don't like to hear about school.

I could hear them fighting and whining and screaming at each other.

Because I was still in my pj's and barefoot, I easily snuck up the stairs to see their rooms...trashed.

Messier than they were before, if that's possible.  PILES of all the clothes I have worked so hard to wash, dry and fold literally strewn from one end of the room to the other.

S4 wanted to tattle on S3.  S3 was clinging to S4 begging him not to.  S2 was playing.  S1 was laying on his bed.

I snapped.  I did.  I told them I did not appreciate spending HOURS of my day every day washing, drying and folding their clothes for them to do this.

S2 piped up that he had taken care of all his clothes and had a whole dresser drawer with nothing in it.

I found out later that was because he had taken armloads of clothes and dropped them off on S3 and S4's bed as in "Here are new clothes for you!".

I stormed out of their room, sat down in a chair and cried.

I did.

Then I bucked up, stormed up those steps and we had a major overhaul of their rooms.  We sorted every item of clothing.  We made beds.  We left not a thing on the floor but the clothes for us to give to another family with three boys.

While they were finishing up, I made one of their favorite lunches, tuna noodle. I had told them they couldn't eat until the room was vacuum clean.  They thought they might die of starvation.  Instead of lunch at noon we had lunch closer to two.  I may have snickered a little at their "dire" predicament.

Today was the day I have been looking forward to all week.  A day to bake and clean and call me crazy, but I was looking forward to it all.  I can't wait to leave for Arizona knowing my house is clean.  I mean, what if something happens to me and people come to my house only to realize that I had to put mouse poison in one of my kitchen drawers and I have cobwebs all over my walls?  I mean, I just can't have that!

But that's my life.

Today my husband is gone for his second overnight this week.  Very unusual, he hardly ever has an overnight and so to have two in one week is...unusual and never happened.  Yesterday I had a GREAT day.  The boys had a fun day.  And today I just look around our messy home and listen to my fighting boys and just want to hide in the laundry room (the one room no one knows exists except me) and cry.

And it would help if my fairy godmother would show up right about then and turn everything sparking clean and make the awful mice hiding in my house like the cute little Gus and his friends from Cinderella. 

This may have been my FAVORITE movie growing up! 

But that didn't happen.

Instead, I just kept on keeping on. Take a deep breath in and out.  My Prince Charming sent me a text to tell me he had emailed me a song that he just heard that he swears I could have written.

And this is what he sent me.

That man, I love him in my husband.  Not the teenage boy Scotty.

I needed this EXACT song today.  I had never heard it before.  It is bound to become one of those songs you sing for the rest of your life.

THIS is what I usually am like.  I need to relax and forget the cobwebs and while the boys need to clean their rooms, heck, I have SO VERY MUCH to be thankful for.  So much.

Right down to the man who is gonna come stumbling in this door exhausted.

As I was writing this, he called me to tell me he is headed home early.  Will be home in about an hour.   The boys have gone upstairs and the chandelier is literally swaying with them running and playing and not fighting.  And while the house is a mess and there are dirty dishes in my sink, I am looking forward to forgetting all that and curling up in his arms with our boys all around and watching some tv tonight, just relaxing and being us.

But if a fairy godmother and magical mice show up and clean my house, I won't send them away.  Heck, I may cry just for the joy of seeing them and having a clean house!

Just thought I'd be depressingly honest with you all today.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Today is My Birthday!

Disclaimer: Writing this before my birthday

Today is my BIRTHDAY!!!!

I am thrilled because I am all about birthday week.

Hopefully, we can do a beach day today.  That is my ideal way to celebrate my birthday, so thankful I was born in August so I get beach days on my birthday.

This year, however, I don't get a birthday week.

I get birthday WEEKS.


Exactly seven days from today, I am hopping on a plane and headed out to meet this family.


Michael, Becca, Steve and Jack.

I just broke into a HUGE grin writing that.

Also, I have goosebumps.  I am all cold and jittery and hot and sure my neck is blotchy red because I am THAT excited.

In my senior year in high school, I hopped on a plane with my parents and brother and we flew to Hawaii.  Yes, Hawaii.  My uncle was stationed there so we spent some time with my aunt and family.  It is one of my happiest family memories.

I have never gotten on an airplane again.

So, for my birthday this year, I have told my husband not to get me a single thing.  Because he told me to go to Arizona.  Told me to go! Because he loves me so!

Whenever I go away on any sort of vacation or day trip, I always keep it as mum as I can.  I wait until I get home and say, "Surprise! I went away! Here are the highlights!"

Not this time.

This time I am going to share as much as I want in the moments I experience it.

I think Becca will too.

So you better be following her blog.

Seven days.

In seven days I am going to get on a plane.

Scares me to death.

Baby steps, baby steps...

And then I get to spend FIVE days with Becca.

There are NO words to how excited I am.  How thrilled I am.  How annoying I have been squealing around my house and to anyone who will listen to me.

Can. Not. Wait.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Meet Kristin Alkire and Hear About My New Job

Earlier this summer, I was asked if I would be interested in writing for a local magazine.

"Sure,"I shrugged.  But the more I thought about it, the more excited I got.

Like, to the point of nearly bursting.

So when they decided to let me write on a trial run, I was a wee bit more than ecstatic.  If you don't believe me, just ask Jake.  I may have been unbearable.  Cute, I hope, but unbearable.

My first interview couldn't have been sweeter.

In the blazing heat, she drove to my house so I could keep the boys at home.  She sat in my sweltering dining room and drank coffee - um, how could I not like her? She drinks COFFEE - and an hour later, when she went to leave, I felt the stranger that arrived at my door had left a friend.

So much so, that when she went to shake my hand I was thinking hug - but honestly, who hugs in 100 degree heat? - so there I was, arm in the air, bringing it down to a dramatic hand shake.

And while I was sitting at my table, in my house, with my four boys packing for the beach, I was trying to think, "be professional. be professional. be professional."

Sometimes, professional is over rated.

I sat down to write about our meeting.  But I just couldn't keep it to the short amount of words that they asked for.  There was too much to share.

And so, here on my blog, I will give you the article that did not get published.

Kristin Alkire left her kids at home with her husband and drove out to a little non air conditioned farmhouse on a day that was slated to reach 104 degrees because that is just the type of person she is.

Kristin has been teaching Biology at Otsego High School for the past 11 years and is also the Department Chair of the High School Science Department. She was nominated for Look Who’s Talking by a fellow colleague, Holly McCaw, who wrote, “Science isn’t usually the hot subject among students, but they love her and rave about how she makes it all fun and interesting and she’s inspired many students. I recently interviewed our school’s Top Ten students and I would say half of them mentioned her in who they would like to thank or who inspired them.”

The 2011/12 school year started on a high note for Kristin.  Kristin was one of the recipients of the 2011 Yale Educator Award.  To receive the award, a student from Yale must nominate one of their former teachers. “I feel very honored to have received this award,” Kristin was quoted as saying on the school website,  “What makes it really special, though, is the fact that Marisa Kaugars nominated me for the honor.  She is an absolutely incredible young woman and it means so much to me that she took the time out of her busy summer to complete the nomination.  This award is really more of a reflection of Marisa than it is on me.”

As she sips her coffee, Kristin laughs.  “The funny thing is, I didn’t want to be a teacher!”  Both her parents are retired teachers and while she loves them and admired their work, she wanted to be her own person.  She began her college education at Hope College as pre-med.  But it didn’t take her long to switch to teaching and she has never regretted her choice.

At the end of the 2011/12 school year, Kristin was nominated as the Teacher Honoree.  “I stood up to tell them I hope they all have the opportunity to do what they love because it means a lot to do what you love, but I just ended up crying”, she admits.

Having played basketball for Hope College, she coached basketball and track for Otsego.  But this year she and her husband (who teaches 8th grade science at Hamilton) resigned from their separate coaching commitments.  “It was a difficult decision,” she shared, “But we just needed more family time.”

Kristin and Nathan celebrate ten years of marriage this year and are busy with their four year old daughter, Zoe and one year old son, Brendan.  I asked this 32 year old how she keeps up with all she has going on.  “It’s challenging.  Thankfully I have a great level of understanding with my husband because he is a teacher as well.  I try to always be productive, trying to utilize my time as best I can.  My parents are retired and a great help.  I have a great support system.”

“The relationships you develop with the students, who I call ‘my kids’, do make a difference,” she explains. “Education is tough right now because there is a lot of negativity so I go back to making connections with my students and focusing on making a difference for them.”

But, if you click the link ( ), you will read the article that DID get published.  You will see an ancient old photo of me that I surely hope will not scar you.  And you will SEE Kristin.  The photo of her is amazing....

She is amazing.

To follow the Women's Lifestyle Magazine of Greater Kalamazoo, just like them on facebook.  You can find copies of the magazine FREE in many areas around the Kalamazoo area.  My good friend Korene found one for me already and dropped it off at the library.  She is a dear.  But maybe she just needed some Biggby coffee...they are a pick up site for the magazine.

To check out the work of the photographer (who I will officially meet this week), like her facebook page or follow her on twitter.

I thought this could be fun for you and I.  Because now I can keep introducing you to amazing people and places in my local area.  Really, this is going to be way fun part time job - I think - if they keep me on.

But don't you worry, Sue and I will still be doing Praise and Coffee Magazine.  As if we could stop doing that....

Thanks for being excited for me on this new adventure!

Friday, August 3, 2012


It's that time of year again.


This year S1 has sorta decided to play.  As in, he survived two conditioning practices and isn't for sure if he is going to play.  Well, until he got this t-shirt, that is.

We signed S2 up for football today, he was THRILLED to get his old number back again.

Look at those tough farm boys!

S3, you can't see, is crying because he isn't playing this year.  If he cries much more, his Daddy may give in and sign him up.  S3 has been sadly looking at his Daddy all night tonight.

I wanted to get a photo now, in the beginning.  Before the bruises, before the losses, before the wins, before the exhaustion, before the elation.  Two boys playing makes me tired all ready.  And it makes me thrilled all at the same time.

This was the sunset tonight...

It feels like summer ended tonight.

Well, other than the fact that it was 94 degrees today.

As I walked the track tonight at school while S1 had his conditioning practice, I chatted with two of my dearest friends.  I watched our kids and a bunch of other kids ride their bikes and play their own football game on the hill.  I waved hello to old friends.

I have missed the camaraderie of football season for me as well.

So, look forward to LOTS more post of the boys football season.

It's sure to be eventfully thrilling!!!!

And if you are a football mom...or if you just love football...check out this book.  I can't wait to reread it!

The Boys Helped Me Pick Out My New Glasses

The title get you?

Yah, it's true.

I have worn contacts since a senior in high school.  That means that my glasses are prehistoric.  Sure, I could get new lens for my new prescription in them but they are ancient old and I just don't want to be caught in those glasses for anything.

Because I have a trip coming up (check back to find out where on the 7th), I figured I really should have a "back up" plan in case my contacts malfunctioned or my eyes were too tired and dry to handle wearing them for a second longer.

Sam's Club happens to have an optometrist on hand.  I have visited my eye doctor faithfully and think the world of them but I couldn't pass up inexpensive frames.  And I was in Grand Rapids for four boys dentist appointment (Dentist side note...there is one hygienist there that the boys and I fear.  She would be much nicer if she drank coffee and ate donuts, I am sure, but she doesn't.  And she chastises us for doing that and damaging our teeth.  We try to avoid her.  She was suppose to clean S2 and S3's teeth.  S4 said, as she walked out of the waiting room with S2), "That's the mean doctor. Glad I don't have her!") so a stop in at Sam's Club was easy.

I went to see if I could get an appointment while I let the four boys eat as much food and drink as much soda from the cafe.  Hey, they had just come from the dentist.  That soda shouldn't effect them one bit.

I fully expected a quick "Your prescription is this, pay here" type of exam.  But the optometrist was thorough and I was impressed with all that he did to make sure I had the best prescription.  He had me try on some contacts.  He took pictures of the inside of my eyes (kinda freaky) and was nice and chatty in a not bad way.

The boys?  They gobbled down food and stood outside the door watching the huge flat screen t.v.'s that happened to have a cartoon on it.  Could it get better?

Then I had to find a pair of glasses.

I had four boys trying to help me.

I had ten pairs of glasses they liked.

I had three boys trying on glasses begging me to buy them for them.

I took approximately 500 hundred pictures and sent 1,000 texts asking for help.  Okay, not really, but I did take a bunch of pics and I did send a bunch of text and I did send my pic on twitter and instagram to see what they said.

S1 picked my glasses almost immediately.  The pair I liked the color of the most just didn't fit right.  The glasses S1 picked I liked everything about.  The woman who ran the desk told me they were the best look on me.  But I still hemmed and hawed because it's a touch choice.

I finally picked them out.

I paid. Because you all will want to know, for me to get frames, lens, eye glass exam, contact prescription, photo of the back of my eye to make sure they were well (they are) it costs $277.  The glasses should be ready on the 9th.

I turned to let S1, who had come to check on me and see if I was finally ready to go, and told him we just needed a few groceries as I put my checkbook back in my purse.  But I looked up to not see S1 but a VERY surprised older man.

Oops.  Don't need groceries with him!  I laughed and explained and he was too shocked to reply so I just gathered up the boys and headed as far away from there as possible.  To the clear other side of the store.  Where girls with long beautiful hair descended up on me.

"Sit here! Oh, let us style your hair!" and so they got out these flat iron curler thingy's and curled my hair.  "What do you do to your hair?" they asked.

"Nothing."  It's true.  It is washed and combed and that's all.  Sometimes I blow dry the very top of my head to speed along the drying process but it's too thick to blow dry.

"Oh, I am so jealous! It's soooooo pretty!"  Another stylist started working on the other side of my head to show of the flat iron to a woman with too short hair.

"They sell for upward of 300 dollars but we sell them here twice a year for 40 dollars," the girls explained to me.

The boys, suckers for all infomercials, begged me to get one.

My amazing stylist assured me it was a great deal when I sent her a text.

So I purchased one.

The boys cheered.  Literally, three of them hugged me and jumped for joy.

I would wonder if they think I look hideous and this is my turning point to look pretty but I'll just go with they were glad I bought the cheetah print one.

So soon I should be posting a picture of me with curly hair - or super soft super straight hair - and glasses.

All thanks to my boys. 

I guess my worry in having them help me choose them was as unfounded as my husband said it would be.  He assured me that they would be great at picking out glasses for me.  Well, I should have never doubted him.  They picked out glasses AND a flat iron.

He may never let me have them pick things out for me again.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Photo A Day

I noticed on instagram that a lot of people were posting #PhotoADay.  And then a friend filled me in...they follow a list of things to take a photo of every day.

I thought this sounded fun so I did it for July.

I missed a few days but all in all, I kept up with it pretty well.

The thing I have found to be the MOST fun is that all day you are looking for that photo you are going to take.  It's like a treasure hunt.  On days I didn't check first, I usually kicked myself because a moment would come to mind that would have worked great but I had missed.

The other thing I have enjoyed is getting help from the boys and my husband on this.  My husband every once in awhile asks me what the picture of the day is and helps me keep an eye out for it.  So then it's even more fun and even more like a treasure hunt!

In July when I had run out ideas to blog about because it was so dang hot, I should have been blogging my photos.  Someone might have thought them Cohagen Chronicles, I think.  Because I got the idea really from her when I found myself looking for her new photo a day (she has some fancy other list...and she has TALENT.)

Anyhow, here is the list for August....

Here is the post that explains the rules and introduces you to the creator...